How Turning Up the Music and Dancing in the Kitchen Is Good for the Soul … and Great for Healthy, Creative Cooking
October 2021 Issue
By Chef Lynn Michelle—The East Coast Chef
Photography by Lucy Rosen
Everything’s better when there’s music involved, and that includes food. Just like music can set the mood in your everyday life, it can also set the mood in the kitchen. The mood-boosting benefits of listening to your favorite tunes as you chop, braise, roast, sauté, stir-fry, or grill can often be just as important as the ingredients you put into your meal. Music not only helps to make cooking more fun, but it also helps to inspire your creativity in the kitchen when it comes to healthy cooking.
ROCKTOBER is the perfect time to pump up the volume, pump up the energy and pump up the flavors when it comes to cooking healthy dishes. Whether it’s streaming your favorite Spotify or Pandora playlist, popping in your favorite old CDs, or simply turning on a kitchen radio, let the energy of the music fill your kitchen. Rock out, and dance as you cook! The power of your favorite songs can transport you to anywhere you want to go, boosting both your mood and creativity. Plus, dancing in the kitchen is a great way to clear your mind, soothe your soul and burn some calories.
Rocking out to my favorite artists and songs has been behind the development of these ROCKTOBER recipes, including my famous Rockin’ Potato Poppers (a vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/sugar-free version of a longtime favorite) and Keto-friendly Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks with a ginger, turmeric and pumpkin sauce. However, ROCKTOBER wouldn’t be complete without some healthy recipes featuring two fall staples—acorn squash and the beloved pumpkin.
So find your favorite ROCKTOBER recipe, grab your favorite pan, turn on your favorite playlist – and dance in your kitchen like no one’s watching. As for what’s on my playlist when I’m cooking these days? You’ll find me singing along and dancing to a mix of Tom Petty, the Doors, Marshall Tucker, Allman Brothers, the Beatles, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Kenny Chesney and Santana, as well as local musicians Nick Poulin, Bobby Magyarosi and Bobby Lee and the Magpies Band.
Happy cooking, happy dancing … and happy ROCKTOBER!
Tip: Beautiful white plates and platters are a great option for displaying your fall favorites. They set off all the incredible colors featured in fall fare. Check out the platters pictured here at Cassandra's Kitchen in Bluffton. Visit www.cassandraskitchen.com for more details.
Rockin' Potato Poppers
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan
8 small colored Potatoes, wash and cut in half, keep raw
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
¾ cup Sour cream (or Tofutti)
¼ cup shredded Colby cheese (or Vegan cheese)
3 slices cooked Bacon, chopped (or Vegan Beyond Meat Bacon, chopped)
1 Jalapeño, sliced (pickled or fresh)
Small jar Roasted red peppers, sliced into thin strips
Preheat oven to 400F°. Using a spoon or small sharp knife, dig out some of the raw potato to make a small hole. Coat the potato halves in olive oil and toss in salt and pepper. Place the seasoned potato halves onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet into the heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until done and golden brown. Let cool slightly. Top each baked potato half with a dollop of sour cream and top with shredded cheese, chopped bacon, sliced roasted red peppers and a slice of jalapeño.
Rocktober Caramel Apple Tower
Vegetarian | Pictured Above
Variety of apples (different colors and sizes)
Preheat oven to 375F°. Mix lemon juice and water to prevent the apples from turning brown. Wash and thickly slice apples with skin on, and let set in lemon water. Arrange the different colors and sizes into a tower of apple slices. Place tower of apples onto a foil-coated baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, depending on oven. Melt caramel dip. When the apple tower is slightly warm and slightly baked, carefully place the apple tower onto a plate and drizzle with the melted caramel.
Rocked & Roasted Acorn Squash
with Honey, Arugula, Red Onion and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Gluten-free | Vegetarian | Vegan | Sugar-free (if not using honey)
4 Tbsps, Honey (optional)
¼ cup Red onion, sliced thin
Salt, to taste
¼ cup Sweet onion, sliced thin
Pepper, to taste
Pumpkin seeds, toasted ¾ cup peppers, sliced thin
2 cups Arugula
1 Acorn Squash, washed, cut in half and seeds removed
Preheat oven to 375F°. Grease a small baking pan and place the acorn squash halves onto the pan. Rub olive oil over the entire inside and edges of Squash and season with salt and pepper. Place 2 Tablespoons of honey in the bottom of each squash half. Then add the onions, peppers and mushrooms between the halves. Place the baking pan into the heated oven for roughly 45 minutes or until golden. Take out of the oven and let set for 5 minutes. Add Arugula to the halves, mix slightly with a fork and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks
Drizzled with a Ginger, Turmeric and Pumpkin Sauce
Gluten-free | Sugar-free | Vegetarian | Vegan | Keto Friendly
1 whole large Red Cabbage
Salt, to taste
1 each Red, Green, Yellow Peppers, sliced thin
Pepper, to taste
1 Sweet onion, sliced thin
½ tsp Turmeric
1 small pkg. Mushrooms, sliced thin
¼ cup Pickled Ginger
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
Pumpkin seeds, toasted
12 oz can Organic Pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 400F°. Place foil over a baking sheet. Wash and remove first 2 layers of red cabbage leaves and discard. Keep the cabbage core intact while using a long sharp knife to cut down into the cabbage to create cabbage steaks. Place the cabbage steaks onto the foiled pan. Cover with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place into the oven and bake for roughly 20 minutes or until roasted. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, place olive oil in the pan along with the peppers, onions and mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent and set aside. In a small pot on medium heat, add pumpkin puree, salt pepper, pickled ginger and fresh grated ginger. Simmer for about 10 minutes. When the roasted red cabbage is done, place on a plate and top pepper mixture and sauce. sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!
Chef Lynn Michelle is a personal chef located on Hilton Head Island serving the entire Lowcountry. Whether it’s preparing healthy, gourmet, family-style meals, or expertly creating elaborate dinner parties, Chef Lynn and her team do it all—planning, shopping, cooking and clean up. www.cheflynnmichelle.com (843) 422-5280